Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Plea for Tolerance...and love...amongst Catholics.

Sickness and the Rotary Conference in Botswana has temporarily halted the posting.  Now I'm back to normal, as we used to say  "in the Octave of Pentecost".

In some ways I am a bit naive in the ways of Catholics and since I have been exploring the Catholic Blogosphere I have been horrified by the insults and vituperative comments by many against their fellow Catholics.  The extreme Catholic right seem to be the worst of all as they not only know that they are the only ones in step but effectively consign to perdition anyone who disagrees with them from the Catholic Hierarchy who they brand as being weak minded, heretical and undermining the "True Faith" as they see it, to anyone who shows any compassion to those who feel marginalised such as gay people or women who have had abortions.

The extreme left is more intellectual and thus less insulting though it is certainly not more tolerant of those who disagree with the "party Line" and will attack the Hierarchy because of the lack of debate on the ordination of women, for example.  Who would be a bishop!

I struggle along in the middle with a love of good liturgy and music but with no interest in putting the clock back.  I wouldn't seek out a Latin Mass but wouldn't be phased if I ended up at one.  I enjoy singing in Latin because the music is usually better so I enjoy the Gloria etc if they are in Latin..even the Pater Noster..but I couldn't be bothered with the Extraordinary Form as it seems like a step backwards and I am put off by all the tawdry lace, birettas and maniples.  Probably what puts me off most are the religious opinions and the unpleasant attitude of many people who espouse these things.  I said in an earlier post that the spin off effect of the "traditional" Catholic movement has been an improvement in the liturgy but when you listen to some of the opinions!  I sat through a Mass, ostensibly focusing on young people, when the priest in his sermon stated that artificial forms of contraception were a worse sin than abortion because an aborted foetus goes straight to heaven where as "prevention" denies the beatific vision to something that doesn't exist!

I am sure there are nice people in the Latin Mass Society who have a genuine love of Latin, in fact the Chairman's Blog shows that Joseph Shaw, the Chairman, is one but I only see the camp followers who think that Benedict XVI is a bit dodgy theologically and consider their own bishop to be a heretic.

I have always tended to be on the theological left because of my sojourn at King's, London in the 60's.  Relatively recently I have moved more to the centre simply because I felt that I was revelling in demythologising and taking exegesis to extremes and rather losing sight of what the Faith is all about.  I was  becoming almost as dogmatic as the extreme right and happily dismissing slabs of Scripture as "later interpolations" or anything reductive.  I'm not saying I have revised my opinion of how Scripture is put together but rather of how I need to read it.

We are all on some sort of a spiritual journey and we stumble along towards the light.  If pushed I would say that I was of the theological school of muddling through and all I ask of others is that they recognise that and are tolerant of my opinions and ideas.  I will always assume that a fellow Catholic is stumbling along just as I am though his or her route may be different.  All I ask is that they allow me the same latitude that I allow them.  Unfortunately is isn't always the case.  GK Chesterton sums it up well in "Orthodoxy":

If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by the things that go with good judgment.

 He is not hampered by a sense of humour or by charity, or by the dumb certainties of experience. He is the more logical for losing certain sane affections. Indeed, the common phrase for insanity is in this respect a misleading one. The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason…. 

Now, speaking quite externally and empirically, we may say that the strongest and most unmistakable mark of madness is this combination between a logical completeness and a spiritual contraction. 

The lunatic’s theory explains a large number of things, but it does not explain them in a large way. I mean that if you or I were dealing with a mind that was growing morbid, we should be chiefly concerned not so much to give it arguments as to give it air, to convince it that there was something cleaner and cooler outside the suffocation of a single argument.


  1. When I first started reading some Christian and theological blogs four or five years I was so shocked by the hate-filled Catholic blogs that I came across that I only read Protestant (and later Orthodox) ones! Of course I also discovered that there are hate-filled Protestant and Orthodox blogs, and realised that the internet can be a source of great harm as well as great good. And I later discovered some decent Catholic blogs - the two that I keep in my reader are Blessed is the Kingdom by Fr Christian Mathis and The City and the World by Joe Koczera SJ.

    I'm pleased to have discovered your blog. I've recently been looking around the Christian blogosphere in SA (having come back here a year ago) and have been surprised at how Protestant it is, apart from two of us Orthodox.

  2. Thanks, Macrina. I will put both the blogs on the Blog Roll.